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MonDVDay News Update

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In the player: Fist of Fury HKL


On the box: Something about kilts...






What a fucking week.




Started out pretty good when a SHITLOAD of DVDs and games arrived in the post (including my copy of the Alien 3 workprint), making me very happy. However, as soon as September 11th hits, I'm in trouble. I spent most of Wednesday night in hospital, as we were out having a meal and I just collapsed - literally fell the fuck out. Although by the time we got to A&E it was pretty late, so I got a bed right away.




So I'm not entirely with it this week. I'm also utterly pissed off with the total lack of DVD news, so I've just taken to recapping anything I see fit - as you'll see below, I've started that little ball rolling by giving my own perspective on the Rare situation. Like it lump it, bitches.




So anyway, I'm doped up to the eyeballs - let's HIT THE CONTENT~!













Obviously, 24 The Complete First Season is gonna be on everybody’s shopping lists this week, although the thrill of that is somewhat numbed as it’s already been out here for a while. I must also confess that I’m (likely one of the only people) who didn’t really get into the series. I watched it faithfully until about episode 4, but then it really seemed to run out of team for me. I dunno, I might get round to watching the DVD, but if not, hey it makes a great bookend.





Panic Room gets a decent SuperBit release (although it’s obviously fairly barren in the way of extras), as does The Mask of Zorro, just because. Man, I just can’t watch any Anthony Hopkins film any more without shouting Lector references at the TV. Ooh, Snatch is SuperBitted as well nice little flick that.





Monsters Inc is… hey, isn’t that already out? Well, I thought it was. It’s out here anyway. This is one damn fine DVD, well up to the usual Pixar standards, and it wouldn’t at all surprise me to see some sort of ultimate box set towards Christmas with every Pixar movie so far. There is a Once Upon A Time In China boxset, but for God’s sake, DON’T BUY IT! As revealed here last week, a OUATIC set is on its way from Region 2 house Hong Kong Legends, and simply blows the US release away. Head over to Play.com to pre-order.





Not a whole lot else to get excited about apart from those. Well, there’s Frailty, but outside of Aliens I'm not a huge Bill Paxton fan. The Gene Kelly Collection may be of interest to fans of classic cinema, while Godzilla The Ultimate Collection may be of interest to fans of Japanese B-movie crap. Charles Manson Superstar is a very, VERY interesting piece on the man himself (who still, strangely, seems to be under the impression that he never actually killed anyone), complete with sit-down interviews. Spooky. Speaking of killers, Sonny Chiba: Killing Machine is a four-movie set (I have no idea which four movies, but come on it’s SONNY FUCKING CHIBA), while Christopher Lee’s Circus of Death promises to be… well, campy, and not nearly as badass as a lightsabre duel with a midget Jedi. Oh yeah, on the subject of killing and death, don’t forget The Best of Backyard Wrestling Volume 5 hopefully these pricks will all kill each other sooner or later.





Daddy of The Week: Well gee, let’s see Earth VS The Flying Saucers, Slumber Party Massacre 1, 2 & 3, Sorority House Massacre 1, 2 & 3… but none of these take the biscuit this week. Instead, that honour goes to Bruce Li’s Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story, just because the title is so fucking funny.














The hottest news doing the rounds right now concerns the Nintendo-Rare-Microsoft love triangle. It has been quietly “announced” by the big N that Rare will cease to be a second-party exclusive developer for their platforms, and it is expected that Microsoft will announce an exclusive deal with the Twycross-based company at their upcoming trade show, having purchased Nintendo’s 49% stake.





Of course, Rare have been responsible for some of videogames finest moments, and throughout the years have provided Nintendo’s platforms with exclusive titles of generally astounding quality. Starfox, Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, and undoubtedly Star Fox Adventures. Almost every game to come out of the hallowed doors of Twycross has been a must-have.





So isn’t this a huge blow to Nintendo and GameCube?





Maybe. But maybe not as much as you might think. Because although every game they release is a must-have, they don’t release all that many games. And the ones they do release are a LOOOOOONG time coming. Take Star Fox Adventures, for example we’ve been waiting at least four long years for that. FOUR YEARS. And that’s only since we saw the first screens Lord knows how long it was kicking around the Rare braintrust before that. Rare is a meticulous, perfectionistic developer. Which, as faults go, isn’t all that bad. But when that equates to maybe one or two titles a year (if we’re lucky), you really have to consider the net worth of the company’s output. And indeed, that’s what Nintendo have done: In explaining their decision not to pursue their second-party relationship any further, Nintendo revealed that Rare only accounted for 9.5% of software revenue for the 2001 fiscal year, while in 2002 that has dropped to a minuscule 1.5%. No matter how you cut it, that only reads one way: Rare ain’t as important as it used to be.





So what exactly does Nintendo lose? Well, of course they lose the services of one of the world’s most renowned, impressive, and indeed slowest developers. In all actuality, all they lose is Perfect Dark and possibly Conker, although the awesomeness of the latter title is betrayed by its pitiful sales performance. Starfox and Donkey Kong are Nintendo properties, and other developers or even Nintendo themselves are more than capable of continuing them. Perfect Dark may yet remain multi-format (although it is likely to be an X-Box exclusive), but even if it does not, it is arguable that the core of the team that made that game, and GoldenEye before it, so successful are already working for other houses on other games, most notably Time Splitters 2. And the fact is, with Nintendo's new second-party deals with companies like Factor 5, and their pseudo-second-party deals with Sega and Namco, it's not like they aren't compensating.





The real winners here are X-Box owners and Microsoft, who will benefit from Rare’s expertise, craftsmanship, and lineage. In Perfect Dark, they will receive a blowaway FPS, although with Halo 2 already confirmed, you do have to wonder if there’s enough room for two flagship shooters. That said, with its hard drive capabilities and online strategy, the Box could be the perfect platfrom for the FPS enthusiast particularly since those are the only games it seems able to do well.





That’s just my two, and I’m sure it’s different to a lot of people’s. All I’m saying is, don’t weep for Nintendo, but don’t bury them either.














First Back To The Future, now Indiana Jones. Can the Holy Trinity be completed with the original Star Wars trilogy any time soon? Not likely, but it’s a nice thought.





In any case, we may have a little Indy to keep us going until the day Hell does finally freeze over. According to DVDrama, Paramount stated during the Deauville Festival Of American Film that the Indy trilogy will get the DVD treatment in OCTOBER… of next year. D’oh. Despite being a year away, the set will be a four-disc affair, with the three flicks each getting their own disc and the fourth disc holding the golden extras.





Hoping to find out a little more about the story, I headed over to the French site armed with FreeTranslation in a separate Explorer window. With a little cutting and pasting, I was able to extract the following information:





“Always without does any date back to exit specifies (the new rumors announce 2005), Indiana Jones 4 view his planning of tournage to construct itself from day to day with the passing of the new declarations of its various craftsmen.”





As you can see, the translation wasn’t all that helpful, although the piece did helpfully credit the Houston Chronicle for the story. So I duly headed over to the site, where I was met with a “this page does not exist greeting”. Oh well so much for avid reporting.






Since then, the Digital Bits folks have posted a rather pessimistic update reaffirming that the story is (like everything Lucas) unconfirmed. To be honest, they sounded a little bitter about it: “As of right now, that's all this is... a rumor. I've spoken with the studio and they're not even sure who this ‘studio spokesman’ was. That's not to say that this isn't possible. But until we hear more, let's not get our hopes up.” Sour grapes? Maybe. But since we already know that Spielberg was asked and subsequently declined to do commentary for the DVD months ago, we can at least assume that the disc is past the drawing board and into the production stage.





So yes, it’s only a rumour until it’s confirmed, but it’s one that I’m happy to put a little stock into.





Thanks to The Times for setting me on the right trails.














Just a quickie, this, but a goodie.




At Sony’s DreamWorld 2002 expo, the opening salvo was fired in the HD-DVD conflict, as the company unleashed a demo of their new Blu-Ray player/recorder technology.





Without the ability to read Japanese, there isn’t a whole lot else to report on the subject. Although if you click here you can have a peek at some pics of the unit as well as the discs themselves (which are in cartridge form, making backwards-compatibility… interesting).




And that, as they say, is that.




















The two-disc “Extended Version” of Battle Royale is headed to Region 2 on September 23rd, and while it looks to be the best of the lot, I must confess I’m a little bit wary about it. Y’see, in addition to the, um, additional footage (that presumably comes from some Director’s cut of some variety), there will also be “CGI added to the film” as well as an alternate ending. AN ALTERNATE ENDING.










I mean, shouldn’t alternate endings just be extras on the second disc? I’m not so sure about replacing the original ending entirely, and that would impact my decision to purchase the disc. And as for the extra footage and CGI very George Lucas. Which is exactly why I’m more than a little concerned. I don’t want goofy CGI crap screwing up such a badass flick. Maybe I’m being too alarmist, but changing the ending and adding a bunch of footage including computer-generated stuff sounds a bit iffy.





That said, the set as a whole is looking VERY sexy. The first disc contains the, ahem, Special Edition of the film, Japanese Dolby 5.1 soundtrack (with English subs, of course), and a shiny, spanky, Anamorphic Widescreen transfer.




The second disc is totally liaded with extras:





  • The Making of Battle Royale (50:19)






  • Battle Royale Press Conference (9:30)


  • Instructional Video: Birthday Version (3:07)


  • Audition and Rehearsal Footage (7:08)


  • Special Effects Comparison featurette (4:30)


  • Tokyo International Film Festival 2000 (4:25)


  • Battle Royale Documentary (12:07)


  • Basketball Scene Rehearsals (8:38)


  • Behind-the-Scenes featurette (10:07)


  • Filming On Set (10:59)


  • Original Theatrical Trailer


  • Special Edition TV Spot


  • Special Edition TV Spot: Tarantino Version (!!!)


  • Director’s Statement (text-based feature)


  • Kinji Fukasaku Filmography


  • “Beat” Takeshi Kitano Filmography




Best of all, all the extras come with English subs. Yaaaay!!





I hope to dear God above that they haven’t butchered the film too much, because the second disc looks absolutely incredible. You could always buy this version as well as the Tartan version, but you really shouldn’t need to. Of course, all the extra footage and even the alternate ending might all be extended branching you just don’t know. And it really doesn’t matter whether all the new stuff makes the film any better or worse ideally, both versions of the film should be presented, a la Brazil or (hopefully) Blade Runner.





Time will tell.





Thanks to Bullets n Babes.








Well, I'm gonna go crash out for a few days. Feedback for the revamped Robo review has been pretty good, and I think Game of Death is next on the schedule. Of course, I'm back at Uni in two weeks, so new content should be forthcoming then.














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